Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA)
September 6, 2012
Why have thousands of dogs in America become sick after eating treats made in China? It’s an urgent question, given that tainted ingredients from that country—added to major-brand dog food—sickened and killed dogs across the United States in 2007.
At the moment, though, there are no explanations for why thousands of dogs in the United States have fallen ill in recent years after eating chicken jerky treats manufactured in China. Test after test has failed to turn up a contaminant that may be causing the illnesses, or the heartbreaking complaints filed at this shortened link to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website: http://goo.gl/da7vP.
Here’s how the FDA, which has jurisdiction over pet food, describes the dangers: “The signs that may be associated with jerky pet treat products include decreased appetite; decreased activity; vomiting; diarrhea, sometimes with blood; increased water consumption and/or increased urination. These signs may occur within hours to days of feeding the products.”
The FDA began warning about the treats in 2007. In 2011, reports about illnesses began rising again. In 2012, the FDA expanded its warnings to include other kinds of jerky treats made in China. Such treats can be found under major brands—such as Nestlé Purina PetCare’s Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch, and Del Monte’s Milo's Kitchen—on the shelves of Walmart, Target, and pet and grocery shops across America.
The FDA says it cannot recall a product unless it finds a contaminant, which leaves the agency in the awkward position of warning pet owners about a product it cannot order to be pulled from store shelves. “There is nothing preventing a company from conducting a voluntary recall,” FDA officials wrote on the agency’s website.
“It is important to understand that unless a contaminant is detected and we have evidence that a product is adulterated, we are limited in what regulatory actions we can take. The regulations don’t allow for products to be removed based on complaints alone. This is an ongoing investigation, and FDA will notify the public if a recall is initiated. Currently, FDA continues to urge pet owners to use caution with regard to jerky pet treat products.”
The companies defend their treats: “Waggin’ Train products are safe to feed as directed, and millions of dogs continue to enjoy them as a wholesome treat,” PetCare said in the question-and-answer section of its website.
“To ensure that the resulting dog treats are both wholesome and safe for your dog,” Milo’s Kitchen reported, “all of our dog treats are processed and packaged following strict quality-control procedures that are in compliance with the Good Manufacturing Practices established by the FDA.”
The U.S. government’s ability to protect America’s pets and people from dangerous imports from China has been repeatedly disproved in recent years. The poison has come across the Pacific in the form of foods for animals and humans, jewelry and toys. It has come in drywall, school supplies, medicines, clothing and appliances.
One federal agency after another and countless U.S. companies have failed to stem that tide. They’ve put these products on shelves. They’ve sold them to people who depend on federal regulation and corporate integrity to keep them safe.
Despite the FDA’s efforts, whether the pet treats are indeed to blame for the illness of so many American dogs in recent years remains unknown. Given the U.S. government’s abysmal track record, however, it’s no wonder that pet owners across the nation have begun to draw their own conclusions.
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